One of the most famous fossil finds in anthropology, ‘Lucy’, made a public debut in Houston, Texas today, as part of an exhibit on the cultural heritage of Ethiopia. A key specimen in the lineage of human evolution, ‘Lucy’ is a 3.2 million year old Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in 1974 in the Afar region of Ethiopia by Dr. Donald Johanson and a team of researchers, and represents one of the most complete hominid skeletons ever found. ‘Lucy’ was also a key specimen in determining that walking upright evolved before larger brain size among hominids.
The decision to allow Lucy’s fossilized skeleton to travel to the US for a public exhibit generated a lot of controversy, and it has taken 6 years to get the exhibit going.
Today’s event was a media preview, and the exhibit opens to the public on Friday at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and will run until April 2008. If you are in the Houston area or will be traveling there during the exhibit’s run, I highly recommend that you take the opportunity to see the exhibit, as it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see humans’ most famous ancestor. Or, you can catch the tour in other US cities, including, I believe, Washington, New York, Denver and Chicago.